“The Gentleman of the Jungle” is a satirical allegory of colonialism in Africa. The story tells the tale of a man who is tricked out of his home by an elephant. The elephant then claims that the man is the one who has stolen the home from him. The lion, who is the king of the jungle, sets up a commission to investigate the matter, but the commission is composed entirely of animals, and the man is left with no voice. In the end, the man is forced to give up his home and build a new one somewhere else. Read More 1st PUC English Summaries.
The Gentleman of the Jungle Summary
The Gentlemen of the Jungle Summary in English
The story ‘The Gentlemen of the Jungle’ by Jomo Kenyatta is a fable that satirises the colonisation of Africa by the European powers which claim to be reforming the natives, while in reality, they confine them because of their greed for expansion. The story can be described as an allegory because the writer uses animal figures to throw light on similar human situations. The word ‘gentlemen’ is ironically used to point out that the usurpers are far from being gentlemanly.
The story begins with the selfless act of a man who allows his friend – an elephant – to put his trunk inside his hut when there is heavy rain. But, the elephant, instead of remaining grateful, encroaches upon the hut of the man and throws him out. When the wronged man starts arguing with the elephant, the confusion attracts many animals from the nearby jungle, including The Lion King who is displeased that the peace of his jungle is disturbed by the misunderstanding between the man and the elephant. The elephant, one of the ministers of the king, pacifies the Lion King by assuring him that there is no threat to peace, but that he was having a discussion with his friend. The Lion King pleased that the man is a friend of the animals, assures him that his hut is not lost to him and that he would get it back depending upon the findings of a Commission that would be appointed to look into the matter.
The man, who is initially happy at the fairness of the king, is soon in for a shock as all members on the Commission are animals and there is absolutely no representation from his side. But, his protest is silenced with the explanation that his kind is not educated enough to understand the intricacy of the jungle law. He is also told that these representatives have been specially chosen by God to carry out the work. The man is assured that these members of repute would be impartial in their judgement.
But, as the man had feared, the elephant succeeds at winning the case by deposing before the court the false idea that the man had asked the elephant to protect his hut from the hurricane at the time of the torrential rain. The elephant boastfully says that since the hurricane had gained access to the hut because of the empty space available, he had occupied the empty space and put it to more economic use. Since the man had to admit that the undeveloped place hadn’t been occupied by anyone else before the elephant had occupied it, the elephant’s act is considered an act of kindness and the man is ordered to build another hut at another place.
The wronged man has no alternative but to build a new hut because he is afraid that the powerful animals on the Commission would be cruel to him. However, the tale of woe of the man doesn’t end with the elephant. The next hut he built is taken by Mr. Rhinoceros, another animal on the Commission, and the same verdict awaits the man. His lot is no better even after that because all the huts he builds are usurped by other members on the Commission: Mr Buffalo, Mr. Leopard and Mr. Hyena.
Finally, the poor man thinks of a plan. He builds a hut which is big enough to accommodate all the animals. As he had expected, all animals, including Mr. Lion, come to the hut and soon there ensues a fight among all. Making use of the opportunity, the man sets his hut on fire and along with the hut, all animals gathered in it are also dead. Thus, the man gets justice by taking law into his own hands.
Although traditionally the act of the man seems to be clever, but immoral, we cannot be harsh upon him in our judgement. He acts as he does simply because he has no other way to get justice.
The man in the story represents our potential to overcome our inner demons and create a better life for ourselves. His burning down of the hut represents our ability to let go of our negative thoughts and beliefs, and to create a new space for ourselves, one that is filled with love, light, and hope.